Mitchell Hillman listens to more local music than just about anyone in the Valley. He presents his picks for best new music in his column, Right Hear, Right Now.
Emby Alexander — "In Your Doorstep Bleeding"
For the third year in a row, Emby Alexander will kick off June with a full-length album. Following in the footsteps of 2014's Frontispiece and last year's Behaves Like Beehives, Emby Alexander plans to release Sound of Phoenix on June 6. The band unleashed the first taste this week with the ultra-weird video for the album's first single, "In Your Doorstep Bleeding." It appears that Michael Alexander is just competing with himself at this point for writing and performing some of the most adventurous indie pop in Arizona. Alexander plays with interesting instrument combinations to produce strange new sounds. Here, it appears to be a combination of electric guitar, lap steel, and a choir of backing vocals creating an angelic vibe. Though the song is straightforward, the video is not. Its imagery is as psychedelic as it is unsettling and largely centered around the bizarre goings on within the band van at a car wash. I can't wait to see what the rest of the album has in store.
Slow Moses — "Oh, Bembaya"
You may not recognize the name Slow Moses, but you probably remember Wooden Indian. Slow Moses is the same band and the same sound but a new name. That is to say the group still is putting out psychedelic dreamscapes, with infinite texturally patterned audio bliss. The band's new album, Charity Binge, will be released on February 19 through Jealous Butcher Records. It will be the group's third full-length but first under the new moniker and last to be recorded at experimental rehearsal/recording space the Dressing Room (affectionately referred to as DROOM) in downtown Phoenix. It was a magical space that allowed Wooden Indian and many other bands to perform, record, or just hang out while others did the same. "Oh, Bembaya" is one of the first tracks to see the light of day, and it's the starting track to the second side of the new album. It is classic Wooden Indian/Slow Moses in every sense: fascinatingly complex percussion; dreamy, psychedelic guitars; hypnotic riffs and patterns for miles; and, of course, Wally Boudway's quivering, breathy vocals. It comes off as a musical drug, injecting your ears with an array of sensual delights. Just listen to it, dip your ears into it, and let go of the pale specter that is Wooden Indian and say hello to Slow Moses. You can catch Slow Moses this Saturday at Valley Bar where they will be joined by Treasure Mammal and Flower Festival.
The Breaking Pattern — "Let Love Go"
After releasing three top-notch singles last year, the Breaking Pattern is getting set to release its debut album in March. If the singles are any indication, it will be one of the best local albums of the year. The band released a promo video a couple of weeks ago with yet another song, but this one is short and sweet but no less effective in getting the group's sound across. I asked lead singer/songwriter Derek Hackman about its brevity, and he said, "We have a few short songs on the album, so I labeled the video for this one a promo." For nearly half of "Let Love Go," the guitars and drums simply build. The lyrics and vocals are nearly incidental in the song, but the music behind them is a maelstrom, really piquing your curiosity about what the album will sound like. "Let Love Go" may not be up to the caliber of, say, "Pretty on the Outside," but it's a damned fascinating track that really leaves me wondering about the construction and flow of the full-length debut. In short, it's the perfect teaser. The video is expertly directed by Alex T. Reinhard, who used a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera and a Canon 7D in combination with Arri 650 lights to create the stunning visuals and the contrasting, blown-out effect for "Let Love Go." Check out the beautiful results below.
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Contradiktion — "Back Down the Drain Again"
I have to admit that I forgot that I had asked Contradiktion's lead singer, Billie Russell, for their new EP sometime last fall. He sent it to me, but there was so much going on I forgot about it. Luckily, they just unleashed a video for an awesome single from that EP. By the way, the entire EP is fantastic through and through. The highlight of the release, though, is the title track "Back Down the Drain Again," and that's what they chose for the video. It's pretty much three minutes of fantastic skate punk reverie — they aren't pushing any boundaries here, but they are making some fine back-to-basics punk. This totally harks back to all the fantastic music that came out of the 1980s in America, and it's every bit as exciting. This is the kind of music I used to skateboard to in my youth. The video looks as though it were lifted right out of that era as well, like something you'd see on MTV's Cutting Edge or 120 Minutes. It's perfect as the band, Russell (guitar/lead vocals), Jeremy Daniel (bass), and Steven (drums) roam around a light rail station in between live performance clips.
Joshua Hill — "Little Sparrow"
One of the most unusual albums released locally this year has to be Joshua Hill's 10-track solo venture, Hill Never Sing Again. You may know Hill as the classically trained madman/visionary behind the esoteric band The Hill in Mind. It's a quiet, peaceful acoustic album with a bit of a twist. It was recorded and mixed in one day at Flying Blanket Recording by Bob Hoag. "We left the door open to let the sounds of downtown Mesa dance around the otherwise sound-insulated studio," Hill says. You can hear birds, cars, and other street sounds throughout the entire affair. After giving the album a few spins, I keep coming back to the groovy little number called "Little Sparrow" (yes, you can actually hear a sparrow in the background). It's a minimalist thing, and that's by the design. It's simply Hill's easy-on-the-ear vocals, his acoustic guitar, and the random ambient background sounds. It's a folk guitar classic-in-waiting, and it's got this great, catchy groove that remains on my mind long after the song is done. It would make for an interesting full band arrangement, but there is something cozy and intimate about the performance here that feels like a warm snug blanket for your ears. The entire album is a great choice to enjoy on a Sunday morning over coffee, staring off into the sky.